• Why Emotional Intelligence Is a Key Success Factor in Business Today

    Yuliya Skorobogatova 14 September 2017
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    Scott and Margaret flaunt two very different personalities. While he’s always the first to come to the office and the last to leave, she’s usually fashionably late. The rest of the team adores her, though, because Margaret is kind, respectful and easy to work with. Despite being a bona fide genius, Scott is unfortunately less so. Try as he might, he cannot seem to score the employee of the month recognition.

    It is, after all, where Margaret’s unbeatable.

    The fact that they are both highly intelligent people notwithstanding, her tact and empathy somehow trump his remarkable outside-the-box thinking. Even with his positive outlook, Scott has never been able to demonstrate the kind of performance his company is looking for. When Margaret was finally promoted into a customer service manager, Scott took a leave of absence to deal with his anger management issues.

    In the eternal struggle between soft and hard skills, Margaret’s emotional intelligence won another battle against Scott’s IQ.

    Here’s how raw genius hardly stands a chance when well-managed emotion is in the room, and why companies should learn to harness the power of emotionally intelligent people.


    What Is Emotional Intelligence?

    Unlike IQ, EQ works fr om the inside out. As a result of their ability to recognize, understand, and manage their feelings, emotionally intelligent people accurately interpret the feelings of others too, knowing exactly how to react to them in the most appropriate way.

    You know how diversity is a major issue in today’s work environment? This doesn’t only include our cultural backgrounds and personal orientations, but also the different ways in which we cope with our emotions. Like Scott and Margaret, we’re all both corporate employees and human beings.  

    In work-related scenarios, emotional intelligence allows us to navigate through our own and other people’s feelings. It helps us collaborate, avoid conflict, and manage stress. Being able to pick up their colleague’s signals and understand what they mean, people with high EQ are exceptional team players.

    5 Main Components of Emotional Intelligence

    According to an American psychologist Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence matters a bit more than IQ. His stance was scientifically argued in a 1995 book with a similar title, in which Goleman developed the first framework for identifying and understanding different components of EQ.

    1)     Self-Awareness

    Simply put, this is what we call being in touch with our emotions – self-awareness is the ability to identify feelings and understand how they influence our behavior. Together with self-confidence, emotional awareness determines our readiness to cope with emotions as they emerge.

    2)     Self-Regulation

    The readiness to cope with what and how we’re feeling falls under the second EQ category. While self-awareness prompts our emotions to come to the surface, self-regulation keeps them in check. It gives us control over our emotional impulses, refining them into a socially acceptable behavior.

    Self-regulation also includes trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, and innovation. Thanks to this ability, emotionally intelligent employees are highly reliable people – since their intuition is strong and their integrity intact, they take responsibility for their actions, and handle change with flexibility.

    3)     Motivation

    The achievement drive is one of the top reasons why people with high EQ usually outperform those with high IQ, and it comes straight fr om the motivation component. Besides being goal-driven and productive, emotionally intelligent people are committed to both their personal aim and the goal of their company.

    4)     Empathy

    At the office and in life alike, empathetic people are quite easy to recognize. They excel in reading emotions of those around them, which makes them ideal candidates for customer-facing jobs. They are understanding and kind, but also accommodating and eager to help.

    5)     Social Skills

    Though empaths thrive on creativity and collaboration, great interpersonal skills depend on a couple of more factors. Communication, negotiation, and conflict management are all indispensable when it comes to social skills, which also includes leadership traits and teamwork capability.

    Why EQ Is a Buzz Word in HR Today

    It’s all about mindfulness, wellness, and mental health these days, and HR professionals are luckily in tune with the current trends. As burning topics continue to examine professional performance fr om the viewpoint of employee satisfaction and work-life balance, it’s only natural (not to mention very promising) that emotional intelligence has finally earned its resurgence.

    Even though only 21% of employees believe that EQ is a more valuable asset in the workplace than IQ, a third international study of 515 senior executives proves that emotional intelligence is a better predictor of success than either relevant previous experience or high IQ. Meanwhile, around 65% of employees deem them equally significant.

    But, whether or not emotional intelligence beats cleverness is not very important. What is important is that poor EQ led a genius like Scott to his inevitable burnout, triggering his frustration and lowering his self-esteem in the process. Unable to cope with imperfections, highly intelligent employees often stumble on the first challenging obstacle, whereas adversity is wh ere those with high EQ grow and succeed.

    Social and personal competency allows us to be more flexible during uncertainty, and to make decisions faster and with greater confidence in our judgment and intuition. EQ helps us build a more positive mindset, which is sometimes the only difference between failing and succeeding. It channels our energy, nurtures our productivity, and hones our creativity.

    That’s why emotionally intelligent employees like Margaret respond to stress with a smile and inspire others around them to approach work with the same enthusiasm. Instead of allowing feelings to control how they perform, emotional intelligence enables them to control what they feel, and thus regulate those feelings into a positive, goal-driven, and collaborative mindset.

    The Importance of EQ for Customer Success Teams

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    However, refreshing her professional demeanor was, Margaret wasn’t promoted solely because of her ability to pick out her teammates’ cries for help and make them remember why they love their jobs. It had a bit more to do with how she handled her customers, most of which were quite angry and dissatisfied.

    Of course, this leads us to the importance of emotional intelligence in customer-facing departments, especially success and support. It’s wh ere empathy is frequently mentioned as one of the crucial social skills, and wh ere hardly any success would be possible without emotional self-regulation.

    Imagine there’s a frustrated customer on the other end of the line, tactlessly lashing out on you for their own inability to understand how to use your company’s product. No, the customer is not always right, but it’s your job to apologize and solve their pain point anyway. And, it all happens on a pretty moody day.

    First, you have to be self-aware enough to separate your personal emotions from your job. Then, you need to resist the impulse to scream back at the customer for not being polite, and to tap into your achievement drive in order to remind yourself why you should even care. We’re all human, after all.

    And finally, you have to be empathetic enough to put your own emotions aside, and try to understand wh ere the customer’s annoyance is coming from. Only by doing that can you respond in an appropriate way, reason with their frustration, and patiently guide them to their eventual success.

    How to Hire People with High EQ

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    Though very well-aware of the significance of emotional intelligence in both internal operations and customer relationship management, HR professionals still struggle with assessing EQ during the hiring process. It takes a great empath to detect an empath, but HR needs a more reliable technique as well.

    Apart from personality tests that don’t always work, job interviewers have recently started employing a method called the behavioral event interviewing. It relies on specific questions and follow-ups, but also insists upon in-detail, real-life examples of candidates dealing with others in emotionally challenging situations.

    That way, the risk of them idealizing their behavior or offering answers that are socially acceptable is reduced to a minimum. An emotionally stirring story is hard to wing in a stressful scenario that the job interview is, which is why interviewers looking for high EQ should always ask for details.

    Another practice that behavioral event interviewers recommend is questioning a candidate about the feelings they were going through at the time. The idea, of course, is to find out as much as possible about their abilities to control their emotions in order to perceive and manage the feelings of others.

    If you take two employees who are, like Scott and Margaret, equal in their technical skills, the one to win the promotion will always be the one with better emotional intelligence. It is because these people don’t let their feelings affect their performance that they are able to cope with change, stress, failure, conflict or criticism. These are all a big part of business today, which makes EQ a key factor for certain success.

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